Small Wars Journal
  • “Once Europe existed in a Dark Age and Islam carried the torch of learning. Now we Muslims live in a Dark Age.”
    -- Mahmud Tarzi
  • “For Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle, founders and editors of Small Wars Journal. They gave the counterguerrilla underground a home, at a time when misguided leaders banned even the word ‘insurgency,’ though busily losing to one. Scholars, warriors, and agitators, Dave and Bill laid the foundation for battlefield success: our generation owes them a debt of gratitude.”
    -- David Kilcullen ('Counterinsugency' Dedication)
  • “The Vietnam War was arguably the most traumatic experience for the United States in the twentieth century. That is indeed a grim distinction in a span that included two world wars, the assassinations of two presidents and the resignation of another, the Great Depression, the Cold War, racial unrest, and the drug and crime waves.”
    -- Donald M. Goldstein
  • “Tunnel systems and irregular urban warfare are essentially advanced methods of cover and concealment. Given that the mission of the infantry is to “locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver,” if the enemy can prevent us from locating him or closing with him, it will be nearly impossible for us to destroy him.”
    -- William Birdzell
  • “The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other. As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas — and we will always win — let us find the courage to heal our divisions within.”
    -- President Donald J. Trump

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement

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New and now available at Amazon - Blood and Concrete: 21st Century Conflict in Urban Centers and Megacities provides a foundation for understanding urban operations and sustaining urban warfare research. This Small Wars Journal (SWJ) Anthology documents over a decade of writings on urban conflict. In addition to essays originally published at SWJ it adds new content including an introduction by the editors, a preface on “Blood and Concrete” by David Kilcullen, a foreword "Urban Warfare Studies" by John Spencer, a postscript “Cities in the Crossfire: The Rise of Urban Violence” by Margarita Konaev, and an afterword “Urban Operations: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Improving the Approach” by Russell W. Glenn. These essays frame the discussion found in the collection’s remaining 49 chapters. Blood and Concrete continues the legacy of Small Was Journal's coverage of urban operations, conflict and combat. - Dave Dilegge, Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan, and Alma Keshavarz, Editors.

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Osprey Overflight - An MV-22B Osprey conducts flight operations during Integrated Training Exercise 5-19 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, 11 August 2019. Photo by Marine Corps Cpl. Cody Rowe.

"Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

-- Small Wars Manual, 1940

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Journal

by H. K. Roy | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:40am | 0 comments
This story could have been included in the previous chapter [“Ignore My Intelligence at Your Peril (I Am Not As Stupid As I Look)”], but as you will read, this premeditated intelligence failure in Iraq is so mind-boggling in nature that it deserves a chapter all its own. Technically it was not an intelligence failure; it was a spectacular tactical intelligence success story, followed by an unconscionable bureaucratic failure to properly manage an invaluable ongoing counterterrorism intelligence operation.
by Ray K. Ragan | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:14am | 0 comments
Currently Civil Information Management (CIM) systems employed by the U.S. Military are not keeping pace with the current revolution seen in civilian next-generation knowledge management systems (KMS). These KMS are possible through the convergence of modern computing, predictive analytics, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Machine Learning (ML). This CIM limitation is unnecessary and self-imposed as a KMS offers persistent and progressing inputs to the common operating picture. This assessment explores how civilian business harnessed this revolution and how to apply it to CIM.
by Thomas Doherty | Fri, 08/16/2019 - 1:13pm | 1 comment
In the era of great power competition, the United States can ill afford to ignore nonviolent resistance as an offensive strategy employable by ourselves, our allies, and also our enemies. The ability to achieve UW end states using strategic nonviolence will increase the options and capabilities available to policymakers and allow us to understand it when utilized against U.S. interests.
by Robert Bunker, by Pamela Ligouri Bunker | Thu, 08/15/2019 - 4:20pm | 0 comments
New eBook out by Robert J. Bunker and Pamela Ligouri Bunker, "The Islamic State English-Language Online Magazine Rumiyah (Rome): Research Guide, Narrative & Threat Analysis and U.S. Policy Response". Reston, VA: Terrorism Research Center, August 2019, 130 pp.
by Mark D. Robinson, by Cori E. Dauber | Thu, 08/15/2019 - 3:30pm | 0 comments
Despite the fact that there is a robust conversation regarding “terrorism and technology,” that discussion is – as near as we can tell – uniformly about the back end, that is to say exclusively addressing the dissemination of what terrorists have already produced. We have found virtually nothing in the popular press and nothing at all in the academic literature about the technology involved in the production of the materials that are being distributed.
by Benjamin Runkle | Wed, 08/14/2019 - 12:41am | 1 comment
Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower justifiably have become legends for their accomplishments while commander World War II’s Pacific and Northern European campaigns. Yet even with renewed focus on great power conflicts, future commanders are more likely to face missions similar to what these officers faced in the Philippines prior to the war than the continent-wide conventional campaigns they are better known far.
by Michael Keen | Wed, 08/14/2019 - 12:20am | 0 comments
Unfortunately, there is no easy fix to the situation in northern Mali. The Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation still provides a blueprint for a more just, inclusive, and peaceful social contract to regulate relations between the government and the people and between different communities in the area.
by Megan O'Dwyer | Tue, 08/13/2019 - 9:38am | 1 comment
Despite complete territory loss in recent months, ISIS still has plenty of life left, and its predecessors have recovered from far more difficult situations in the past. ISIS has more manpower, money, and reliable networks than it ever had before it began controlling territory.
by Gary Anderson | Tue, 08/13/2019 - 8:37am | 1 comment
China is waging a small war for control of the South China Sea (SCS) under the guise of protecting a ridiculous definition of its territorial waters in a manner designed to turn the SCS into a Chinese lake. She has militarized the area by using her Coast Guard to harass ships exercising the right of innocent passage and has built artificial islands in areas of disputed ownership. Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Republic of the Philippines have had vessels destroyed, detained, and otherwise intimidated.
by Philip W. Reynolds | Mon, 08/12/2019 - 9:08am | 3 comments
A multipolar view of the world inclines far more towards justice than one in which the U.S. jealousy protects her position. The British and French are firmly in the U.S. and NATO camps, and are defending their democracies, not docile parroting of the U.S. position. In Asia, Liberalism is anchored by Korea, Japan and Australia in a grand arc. This is not the work of Trump, but the sum of endless work over decades to make the U.S. safer. Recent events are vindication of this ‘offshoring’ strategy.

Blog Posts

by Associated Press | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 4:09pm | 0 comments
"A suicide bombing at a wedding party in Kabul claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate has renewed fears about the growing threat posed by its thousands of fighters, as well as their ability to plot global attacks from a stronghold in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan."
by Voice of America | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 3:15pm | 0 comments
The fate of a much-anticipated peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban is hanging in the balance after both adversaries in Afghanistan's 18-year-old war said they still have “some details” to discuss.
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 2:04pm | 0 comments
"A Syrian government air strike aiming to stop a Turkish convoy reaching a rebel-held town in northern Syria has killed three civilians, Turkey alleges."
by Voice of America | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 1:19pm | 0 comments
Ashraf Ghani's comments Monday, on Afghanistan's centennial Independence Day, come as the South Asian country is still recovering from the shock of a bombing at a wedding late Saturday that killed at least 63 people, including children, and wounded 183.
by Long War Journal | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 11:40am | 0 comments
"As the US government pushes for a deal with the Taliban that will pave the way for the withdrawal of US forces, the Taliban continues to promote the training of its fighters and attacks on Afghan and Coalition forces."
by Center for Strategic & International Studies | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:37am | 1 comment
"For all the furor over Iran and the Gulf, or Britain and Brexit, the most important foreign news of the month is what would normally be a relatively obscure Chinese official document: China’s National Defense in the New Era. This White Paper was issued on July 22nd in both Chinese and English. Unlike China’s previous defense white papers — the most recent of which came out in 2015 and was blandly reassuring to the point of being vacuous — the new White Paper picks up the gauntlet that the U.S. threw down in its 2017 National Security Strategy and in 2018 National Defense Strategy."
by Associated Press | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:29am | 0 comments
"The U.S. has opened up secret communications with Venezuela's socialist party boss as members of President Nicolas Maduro's inner circle seek guarantees they won't face retribution if they cede to growing demands to remove him, a senior administration official has told The Associated Press."
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Sun, 08/18/2019 - 1:18am | 0 comments
"A bomb has exploded in a wedding hall in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing 63 people and wounding more than 180. Witnesses told the BBC a suicide bomber detonated explosives during a wedding ceremony."
by The Washington Post | Sun, 08/18/2019 - 1:02am | 0 comments
"For months, Afghans have been waiting anxiously to see whether negotiations between U.S. officials and Taliban insurgents will lead to a lasting peace and a solid path to power-sharing or leave them bereft, facing revived conflict and a possible Taliban takeover."
by Voice of America | Sun, 08/18/2019 - 12:21am | 0 comments
Authorities in Afghanistan say a massive suicide bomb blast late Saturday inside a packed wedding hall in Kabul "killed and injured dozens of civilians."
by Reuters | Sun, 08/18/2019 - 12:16am | 0 comments
"Airstrikes have killed more than two dozen civilians in northwestern Syria in the last two days in an escalation of a Russian-backed offensive against the last major rebel stronghold, a war monitor and local activists said Saturday."
by Military Times | Sat, 08/17/2019 - 3:08am | 0 comments
"As the U.S. and the Taliban are on the brink of securing a peace deal that would remove U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, a new report cautions that Afghan warlords are readying for a potential civil war."
by Military Times | Sat, 08/17/2019 - 3:02am | 0 comments
"U.S. military officials in Iraq will now seek out Iraqi approval before launching any air operations, a move made a day after that nation’s prime minister announced a ban of unauthorized flights, including those involving coalition forces fighting ISIS."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sat, 08/17/2019 - 1:38am | 0 comments
The White House says President Donald Trump’s talks with his national security advisers to discuss Afghan peace talks went “very well” and that negotiations with the Taliban “are proceeding.”
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 08/17/2019 - 1:26am | 0 comments
"Chinese and Russian warplanes have increasingly nosed around and veered into South Korea’s airspace, conducting close patrols that allow Beijing and Moscow to test the air defenses of the U.S. and its allies in the region."